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The Crowd

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A single cough rang through the still crowd. Expectant and scared, the people waited to see who would step forward and set things back to their monotonous track. The fathers craned their necks to see the bodies; the mothers covered the eyes of the young; and the children stared in shock, silently crying and visibly shaking.

One man finally stepped forward. He looked the same as all the other men. Head bowed in prayer and respect, he gently knelt beside each of the once living and closed their terrified eyes. He remained calm and collected until he came to a dead mother suckling a dead baby. His back was to the audience but his sniffles and gently shaking shoulders told the onlookers that his shell was broken. He remained longer this time, praying in hushed whispers. But when that didn’t help he said the Lord’s Prayer.

He began in low undertones that gradually grew louder until he was shouting “But deliver us from evil.” But what comforted him most was when he heard “Amen” murmured behind him in low solitary traces amplified by the numerous voices to a shout.

The man turned to face the crowd, tear stained and flushed, but otherwise composed. He appeared to want to say something to the mass but instead, head down, walked back to the people.

The gathering was a wall and it took the man an uncomfortable amount of time to force his way through. Half way through the still crowd a bang shocked the people. To anyone who had been around guns they would have known that the bang was not a gunshot but, as ignorance flared and riot-mentality spread between the masses, the man began to push to the side before he was swept away. He stepped from the crowd into a side ally just in time. The crowd surged back down the road in a wave of panic. Those too small or young fell beneath the feet of the many and we trampled.

When the man stepped from his alley he sighed in recognition of the task set before him. Each body on the ground was that of a one alive and once beloved child, s/he had been to short and to slow to keep up. Their deaths would have been slow and brutal as the children fought to get back up as hundreds of adults stepped on them and kicked them. They might have panicked as their ribs collapsed in their lungs and suffocated them, maybe a stray kick ruptured an organ and they drowned in their own fluids, or perhaps the terror and the pain was too much and they simply gave up.

The man once again stepped from body to body to close the eyes of the dead. He cried openly this time, not hiding or wiping tears. The last child wasn’t dead but she was dying. She reminded him of his own daughter, brunette, brown eyes, slightly pudgy and a little smaller than normal. She was staring into the sky, maybe searching for heaven or some other comfort, but the man knew that she would never live. He pulled out a small hunting knife.
“Like a horse,” he whispered to himself. A deep cut and he was done.

He stood and knew that the idea that the children were horses, animals, less than human was a terrible thought. They were beloved, like his own daughter, all God’s children and all people. He thought of the future of these kids, love and education and friends and marriage.

He turned with a weighted heart and a depressed mind. When he gets home he is going to hug his daughter and kiss his wife and sleep.



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